Heat’s Jovic gets Adebayo seal of approval, ‘He’s not running around mindless. The kid can hoop’ – The Denver Post


Of all the possible permutations, it appeared highly unlikely that Erik Spoelstra’s wheel of lineups would stop on a combination that had 19-year-old neophyte Nikola Jovic playing at any point alongside Bam Adebayo, Jimmy Butler, Kyle Lowry and Tyler Herro.

Yet there, in Wednesday night’s preseason finale against the New Orleans Pelicans, stood the No. 27 pick in last June’s NBA draft, and the kid out of Serbia looked all right.

“Man, the thing I like about young fella, he’s a hooper,” Adebayo said, with the Heat now idle until Wednesday night’s season opener against the Chicago Bulls at FTX Arena. “He’s one of those guys, he figures it out as he goes. And that’s the thing I’ve learned about him so far. Like throwing him in the first unit, he looked like he was comfortable with us.

“He knows exactly where to go, figuring it out in the flow, keeping the spacing. He’s not running around mindless. The kid can hoop.”

No, not likely something Spoelstra is expected to feature in his primary rotations. But Wednesday night showed the potential for the lithe 6-foot-11 big man as a change of pace.

“He plays basketball the right way,” Butler said. “He can shoot it and he can really pass it. I think that the more that he plays, the more comfortable he’s going to be out there, whether it be with the starters, whether it be with some of the role players.

“I think that the more reps he gets in games against so many different types of competition, the better he’s going to become.”

Jovic’s minutes came before foul trouble got in the way and Caleb Martin returned to work with the starters.

While non-committal, it appears that Spoelstra will go with the first unit that opened Wednesday night’s 120-103 victory: Adebayo, Martin, Butler, Herro, Lowry.

Adebayo said he already is impressed with the possibilities on offense.

“I felt like that was some great basketball we played as that first unit,” he said. “We definitely shared the ball. I felt like 15 assists in the first unit, I felt like that was great basketball from all of us, sharing the ball, guys finding each other. It looked beautiful to me, definitely felt comfortable for all of us.”

Butler cautioned that it also has to be a two-way lineup.

“I think we did alright,” he said. “We shared the ball, made some shots. It looks good. We probably could do a little bit better on the defensive end. But when we’re scoring like that, that’s what we tend to do, try to outscore people.”

While the new lineup thrived at pace on Wednesday night, Spoelstra offered perspective.

“I think it’s also probably a point of emphasis for every team in the league at this time of the year,” he said. “And then, can you sustain it? But our speed, our quickness, our versatility, those are some of our strengths offensively. We’re going to, quite naturally, try to maximize that.”

Taking note

Adebayo’s 12 free-throw attempts Wednesday would have tied his second-highest total for the regular season, two off his career high.

So, yes, he said getting to the line is a priority, with his total against the Pelicans achieved in only 25 minutes.

“I mean, they’re free,” he said. “So getting to the line is the goal, just trying to do it in many different ways. Just obviously learning from Jimmy, who’s one of the best at getting fouled, kind of trickles down the rest of us.”



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